Monday, April 30, 2007
Lay flipped through the slides, describing some of the physical characteristics of people who have Down's: almond-shaped eyes, an enlarged tongue and a very distinct palm pattern-- one that consists of only two major lines instead of the more common three-line pattern. I'd never heard that last one before, so I looked up.
Then I looked at my own palm.
Then my books went crashing to the floor.
To my knowledge, I was not born with the chromosomal combination that causes Down Syndrome. I don't exhibit the other physical characteristics of it, either. However, my palm pattern is identical to the one projected on the biology room wall. I'd always wondered why my lines never matched up with the "palmistry" features in beauty magazines: Do I not have a brain? Will I never find love? What, dear heavens, did it mean?
"Palm reader" seems to be slapped onto characters in all levels of savory. I've never shown my hand to one--you just don't know if you can trust it. And as superstitious as I am, it's not impossible to imagine me signing up for the Convent after hearing that I indeed have no heart line. But that didn't stop me from turning to my trusty pal, The Internet, who said I have what's called a "Simian Line," characteristic of people with "base" intelligence and a propensity toward either perfectionism or criminality. Awesome!
I had forgotten about all that until last weekend, when someone at the conference mentioned he dabbled in palm reading and tarot cards. Of course I asked him all kinds of general questions and he said that there are plenty of shysters out there, but it's a very real art. He said it's easy to consult a book and make a completely wrong reading if you don't know what you're doing. And while he was learning, he looked at thousands of palms and cards--often for coworkers-- and even predicted real situations. I was still very skeptical, but after three days of hanging out with him, I really liked the guy; he seemed like a cynic himself and didn't have anything to gain from lying.
He said the "death" card doesn't mean you're going to die, just that a phase or element in your life is coming to and end. And that he never told anyone the bad stuff, but tried to phrase it in a constructive way, such as "you'll be going through a difficult time, but you'll get through it." However there was one reading for a coworker when all the bad cards came out in the ominous order for death. He tried to focus on the positive by telling her she'd have to face a very rough situation, but that she was surrounded by a lot of people who loved and supported her.
The next week, the girl wasn't in the office and he found out her mother had been struck by a car and killed. He called to offer his condolences and she said, "You were right! I have so many people to lean on and help me. It has been terrible to lose my mom, but I never realized what a great support system I have." He hasn't read too many cards since then.
On the last day of the conference, I caved. I really needed an "authority" to tell me I wasn't a freak, so I asked if he'd ever seen a palm with only two lines. He said it's not common but yes, and the Simian gobbledygook is more of an old wives' tale because modern palmistry considers it a good sign. He took a look at my palm and said I was not a weirdo, but in fact an old soul in touch with both the heart and the mind (I actually have both lines, but they're on top of each other). And he was dead on about other stuff, like the perfectionism, stubbornness and that I'm better at writing than verbalizing. He also said I'm very analytical and my decisions are usually sound, which is interesting because my natural state is one of perpetual decision-making agony.
True to form, there was no bad news. He even said I have a brilliant streak, but by then aw shucks, he was already my pal. I'm not going to dwell on the reading, but I'm sure the idea that I'm slated for a career change in my late 30s and that I'll be most successful later on in life will be in the back of my mind. (If it comes true, you heard it here first, folks.) For now, I'm just glad I'm not a criminal or worse, a loveless mindless freak.
When I got home, I told my mother what happened.
"I could have told you that you're not retarded, silly girl," she said. "What I want to know is this: did the guy say when you're going to get married?"
Saturday, April 28, 2007
In one of the earlier episodes, Theo buys a shirt by designer Gordon Gartrelle. Throughout the series, the real-life Gordon Gartrelle worked in various jobs for the series and is listed as a producer of the show during the last few seasons.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Here are the five questions Lia asked:
1. If you had to flee the city, where would you go?
Suburbia. It's highly underrated.
2. Do you prefer your drinks with or without ice?
Without. People think I'm a freak, but it's mighty convenient when I'm visiting countries where it's not safe to drink unbottled water.
3. Summer's coming: sneakers or flip-flops?
If it weren't for snow, my toes would be free 365.
4. Tell us about a turning point in your life.
When I was little, I wanted to be a cardiac surgeon. I held onto that dream for a really long time (especially when my dad said he'd buy me a convertible when I got my MD). I realized somewhere in the middle of high school that if I couldn't watch fake doctors doing fake surgery with fake blood on tv without my stomach churning, medical school was probably not a realistic option.
5. What's your favorite book that no one else has ever heard of?
Someone to Run With by David Grossman
It's about some crazy street kids in Israel (fiction), but their struggles really resonated with me. And although it was hard to get the pacing at first, I finished it all in one sitting and actually read it again (highly unusual). Someone went to great lengths to find it for me after I had mentioned reading a review on it, so I'm sad that my mother left it in a doctor's office waiting room. But hopefully somebody else is enjoying it now.
I'm sure the tabloids are going to station someone outside my house the moment this post is published. At the very least, I'm expecting some offers for ice-less drinks. If you want to be as famous as I will be:
Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
I will email you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
Update your blog with the answers to the questions.
Include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
1. Go to Wikipedia and enter your birthday without the year: August 14
2. List three events that occurred that day:
- 1908 - First beauty contest held in Folkestone, England.
- 1936 - Rainey Bethea is hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky in the last public execution in the United States.
- 2004 - Sales tax holiday in Massachusetts. All sales taxes are suspended on purchases of $2500 or less.
3. List two important birthdays:
- 1945 - Steve Martin, American comedian and cousin of my math teacher
- 1959 - Magic Johnson, American basketball player and all-around nice guy (so I've heard)
4. List one death:
- 1951 -William Randolph Hearst, American newspaper magnate (b. 1863) and a guy who built one hell of a castle.
5. List one holiday or observance:
- Pakistan - Independence Day (From the Indian Empire and from the British colonialist and imperialists under the foreign control of the United Kingdom, 1947) It's too bad people are still fighting today.
Ok, I know it's not really part of the rules, but I have to say that the list of people born on August 14 seems to follow a pattern. They're mostly entertainers. I'm talking actors, musicians, athletes. Even back in the day it was painters and novelists. If you don't believe me, take a gander at the list. And several other athletes and actors didn't even make Wikipedia, such as Halle Berry and oldschool Chicago Bear Vestee Jackson. (even though I'm pretty sure only my brother knows that one). Hey, maybe if the traditional job doesn't work out for me, I should get together some kind of show and hit the road. At least then I'd be staying true to the legacy of my birthday.
Even though I hate putting pressure on anyone, I'm a stickler for playing by the rules. So I tag Ale, Beenzzz and Jazz (however, if being tagged makes you not want to do it, jas, then consider yourself un-tagged.)
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Then I slept for 16 hours.
Thank you all for your good wishes and tips; H read them to me over the phone while I waited for a connection. When I got to the conference I smiled at everyone and introduced myself to anyone whose attention I could retain for thirty seconds. It was extremely awkward and uncomfortable, but got a little easier with practice. And so did the being alone part. I managed to use the city's counterintuitive unmanned masstransit, even though I kept thinking about that scene in Total Recall where the automated taxi crashes and continues to say "Have a nice day! Have a nice day!" I approached people whose lofty reputations and fancy titles intimidated me. And I even ate a few meals on my own (although it was in my room with CNN; sitting alone at a restaurant's going to take some time).
I was very unsure about talking to people. Seriously, what the heck can I contribute in a conversation with veterans in the business for decades? So I stuck to subjects I knew I could hold my own in: The overuse of air conditioning in seminar rooms, Thanking Goodness they offered free coffee and asking if my fellow attendees had yet dared to risk their knickers out on South Beach.
And what did I discover? That superduper bigshots are just like regular people. Especially during a lengthy discussion about the exhorbitant price of children's ice skating costumes and the perils of bidding for them on eBay with the one person the association awarded for his overall excellence this year. That's no easy feat. And the eBay trick wasn't a simple task, either.
Two of the coolest people I met do what I do, but for the government. Say what you will about the people at the very top, but Joe and Christine are smart, decent and fun to hang out with. Now I'll think of "Central Intelligence" in a whole new way.
I had to do my sightseeing when it was convenient:
The only time I actually saw the beach, though I was a lot closer to it on the ground.
The view from my hotel room, of Miami's Biscayne Bay and the causeway that leads to South Beach.
Not as impressive a skyline as Chicago, but very lovely indeed.
The main difference between a conference and a vacay? Getting up at the crack of dawn.
It's hard to see, but I could only get about half of my foot out onto the "balcony."
The view was just as lovely at night.
And they had cool ships!
Sunrise over the clouds and the city, as I left for home.
I'm really glad I ignored my fears and went on this trip. You really can do things you never thought you could, as long as you don't spend too much time thinking about it.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
I will board a commuter train to walk to the Orange Line to ride to the Airport to fly to Tampa Bay to connect to Ft. Lauderdale to take a shuttlebus to Miami. There, I hope to learn a thing or two about my industry and my career path. I will likely have to eat by myself. I'm sure I'll do a lot of standing around awkwardly. And I will definitely be spending quality time in the room with premium cable channels I do not have at home.
This situation looms dire because I am the girl whose tiny dungeon office seemed so much like a torture chamber that her blog posts were cries for rescue; the college student who couldn't sleep until she heard her roommate's key jangling in the lock; the girl who feels sorry for those who go to movies by themselves, because poor things, they have no one with whom to make snide commentary. And unfortunately my go-to partner in crime for these work-type conferences, cc, has a family thing keeping her from tearing up the palm-tree scene with me. Oh, the fun we would have had!
But for the same reason I force myself to precariously look down from high places, I will force myself to smile and go through with the trip. But it's a good thing I'll have my trusty Wonder Woman luggage tag along for the ride:
A little rough around the edges, hiding complete terror with a healthy sense of feisty. Yep, that's how I roll.
Monday, April 16, 2007
And don't get me started about what I have planned for the jackasses who have been making my friends cry lately.
Friday, April 13, 2007
3) Freshman year of college, nice-ex was unsure if I would accept his invitation to the Indian Students Association semiformal and got third-party confirmation like highcon had for The Prom. I don't know what that's about. Perhaps all those years of fearing my parents' disappointment cultivated some kind of hell-no-don't-even-think-about-asking vibe I must put out to anyone even the slightest bit interested. The dance was our first plausible date because a week before when we went to see The English Patient, he had just come from competing in a track meet and slept through all three hours of the movie.
I wore my Prom dress (in fact, I wore that sucker about four times that year; talk about getting your money's worth. Thanks, dad!) He wore khakis, a white buttondown shirt, a tie and thin, navy blue suspenders. I have to say, he pulled it off pretty GQ and made a good impression. The flowers were scarlet with a scarlet ribbon. And aside from the fallout created by Mr. Mickey Mouse Tie's spy, who was in attendance and later reported all kinds of ridiculous untruths that Mickey Mouse used to destroy my reputation among my parents' friends, I had a lovely time. Despite our group being unable to locate the restaurant where we had reservations and ended up at Dairy Queen, eating ice cream at a Leg0-topped kids' table before the dance.
4) By Senior year, the semiformal was old hat to nice-ex and I (no corsage sophomore year and I was in Spain Junior year). I wore a navy satin floorlength halter dress that had this monochromatic embroidery all over the bodice and was cut to make my skinny arms look more toned. (I'm holding onto that dress for when it comes back in style. I pray I'll still be able to squeeze into it and actually have somewhere to wear it to.) He wore a gray suit. We went with a huge group of friends, most of whom were honorary Indian students, and the one corner of the dancefloor seemed to be our own personal party. Very fun.
5) I'm still trying to figure out what to call the one between nice-ex and H. To make an annoyingly long story short, it'd be as if Monica and Chandler were to go through a painfully messy breakup that made Monica start a blog and the other Friends resent them for a time, after which things would be fine but never quite the same. It's sickening how many parallels there are. You know, without the engagement, wedding, twins and move to suburbia.
I caught this bouquet at my friends Jacqueline and Ramon's lovely wedding. I was reluctant and stood toward the back, but the dang thing bounced off somebody else's eager hands and came right at my head. Chandler said he somehow had a *feeling* I was going to come back to the table with it, but sometimes it's better for everyone when superstitions don't come true. I wore a little black dress and he was in purplish gray.
I think a two-part post does better justice to that stuff than leaving it in a closet shoebox to rot (saves more room, too). And because it took me a while to remember where the heck #5 was from, I'm glad I took some time to write it out. I've gotta do more documenting before the old memory slips even further.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
These are the contents of a 10-year-old Nike shoebox I found in the back of my closet:
It's every corsage/bouquet of note I have been able to hang on to during the last 15 years, dried and preserved. Every time I opened that box, a flood of memories came rushing back, which is probably why I haven't gotten rid of these things. So, to convince myself that throwing these rotting skeletons of once-beautiful flowers away isn't a crime against all that is sentimental, I snapped some pictures and will share some of the memories with you:
When your parents come from a place like India, you have to take the good with the bad. I'm talking about a society that generally says "Do not even look in the direction of the opposite sex" for years, then suddenly one day: "Hurry up and get married so you can make as many grandchildren as possible. 1-2-3, GO!" While my parents are a great deal more reasonable than that, I was deathly afraid of them finding out that I actually spoke with boys and even dared to "date" one (if you consider passing notes, talking on the phone, getting rides home from school and going to six movies in three years dating). Most of my fear was that my parents would have to dodge barbs or be ostracized from the Auntie Patrol for being so lenient if I did something stupid like be caught holding his hand in public. Or even worse, attend a school dances with a date. But I did it anyway. Very carefully.
1) When I was 15, I had a crush on a family friend and swooned to find out he liked me back. This corsage was from senior-year Homecoming two years later, the only dance at my school he was able to sneak away from his parents to attend. He wore a black suit and a Mickey Mouse tie and I wore a long-sleeved, floor-length, clingy evergreen dress (the top part was sparkly!). It was made of the kind of fabric that hugs every last curve, but back then I didn't have too many of those, good or bad. A few years ago I tried it on again before giving it to my modelesque cousin, and while I filled it out much better that time, I had to suck in my stomach because the four-pack is now a distant memory. If highschool girls only knew what was coming down the road, they'd be so much easier on themselves. And each other.
2) My father had once watched a Leeza (Gibbons' short-lived Oprahesque talkshow from the early '90s) episode about date rape at The Prom. And although I'm pretty sure he still doesn't fully understand what The Prom is to this day, he forbade me to attend under any circumstances.
Years of sneaking around on dangerous reputation-destroying missions such as meeting my boyfriend for coffee when I said I'd be at the library taught me that you don't necessarily have to lie. I sweetly told my dad that the school was having a party at a hotel banquet hall for all the soon-to-be-graduates and that I'd need a formal dress. I also threw in that they'd be seating us boy-girl-boy-girl out of tradition, so I'd be sitting with kaiya and highcon, both of whom he already knew. Pops said cool, and handed over the money.
I leafed through the phonebook to help my date order the corsage while we procrastinated writing our English papers. It had tiny pink roses and baby's breath with grey ribbon and tulle. I wore a sleeveless gunmetal-colored satin floorlength dress and had sewn a ridiculous bolero jacket to wear over it so that my father would allow me out of the house. It came off as soon as I was out the door, but I put it back on for the pictures because my mother would want to see them (she knew nothing was going to happen with highcon and distracted my dad while i snuck out). I had my friends pick me up down the block and I put the corsage on myself in the parking lot as we walked in. It definitely wasn't romantic, but all the lame couples clinging to each other on the dancefloor were sneering at us all night out of envy. Afterward, we met up with the Prom Protesters and hung out in downtown Chicago. I had a fabulous time.
Years later, I was watching the Dawson's Creek prom episode where everyone was yelling, fighting and storming out on each other. My father happened to walk in just as I turned to my brother and said, "See? This is why I went to The Prom with highcon. Absolutely no drama."
"YOU WENT TO THE PROM!?!??!? I THOUGHT I HAD TOLD YOU NO PROM!"
It just goes to show that even the most careful of goody-two-shoes can't hide things forever.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
"By the way, I've been emailing my sister back and forth today. She told me to tell you that moving down there would be the best idea you've had since deciding to be my girlfriend. And if you don't move there, she won't like you anymore (she thinks this will be a very compelling reason). You can do with that what you want :) "
"well, you tell her that it would be my pleasure to take up residence in her fair city, and as soon as she can find me a job there, i'll pack my bags!"
"She said she can get you a job at Mimi's Cafe. She said she usually makes anywhere from $XX to $XX an hour. Pack your bags!!!"
"did you mention that i move with the swift agility of an 85-year-old woman [i'm extremely sore from monday's dance class] and can't remember what you've said to me 2 minutes before? do those sound like the traits of a successful waitress?"
"Actually, I think you're a little over-qualified. Try not to remember stuff for so long, ok?"
"i'll do my best, but it's hard to let go of some of the stuff that pisses me off."
"Hmmm... Yeah, maybe food service isn't the best industry for you."
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Take this lovely address book carefully saved in the original bag.
I bought it in Barcelona when I was studying abroad. I was impressed that a reknown architect could make buildings without using math. Gaudí, my hero! My rationale for not filling it out right away was that nearly everyone I knew was graduating and moving around all over the place. I was going to wait until people were more stable in their addresses so as not to mar the beautiful pages by crossing/white-ing out entries.
Guess what? It's eight years later and my friends are STILL moving all over the place.
Ale, be sure to give me your new address; I'll send you postcards from suburbia. You know, just in case you forget what it's like out in the middle of the United States.
Friday, April 06, 2007
Birds are twittering, grass is sprouting and I'm itching to throw things away. I admit it's the first time in my life that I've actually felt the need to "spring clean," but you know me: When I take on a project, I go ALL OUT.
For the past week and a half, any moment I have not been working, cooking, eating or sleeping has been devoted to sorting my junk and to get rid of what I do not need. Or at least thinking about it. Because defining "need" takes some thought. I cannot describe how hard it has been for me, a classic packrat, to part with such sentimental treasures as my fourth grade catechism report card-- on which Mrs. Schmeider rated me Excellent at "Prepares Homework and Projects" and "Participates in Class," but only Very Good at "Shows Christian Values in Behavior" and "Shows Knowledge of Doctrine." She probably saw me doing my homework before class started every week. Sure it got done, but I guess that wasn't a very "Christian" way to go about it. Whatever. At least I wasn't copying.
However ridiculous, the report card is staying. But only because it fits in the one small box I am allowing myself for school memorabilia after I got rid of every last lame book report, math packet and science experiment lab note. Besides, it makes me chuckle.
After months of watching home organization shows, mainly Neat and Mission:Organization, I felt I had observed long enough.
I started with my parents because a) it's much easier to throw out other people's stuff and b) I inherited saving techniques from my father, Mr. Just In Case, who is gunning for some sort of keeping-stuff championship. Granted, junk he saves comes in handy once in awhile, but the useful-to-spacewaste ratio is severely skewed toward the latter.
For her birthday, I reorganized my mother's closet. She is extremely easygoing and doesn't hold on to much, which is probably why she allowed my father to overtake 94% of their wall-to-wall closet with neckties from 1984 and brand-new packages of tube socks, along with every piece of clothing he has ever owned*. The poor woman was keeping her clothes downstairs in the guest room, where she had to trudge every cold winter morning. Dad wasn't excited about having to clear out half of the closet, but he held up his end of the bargain. I got a closet rod doubler, two sets of hanging shelves, some nice wooden hangers, and threw in a lot of time and effort. Unfortunately, I don’t think I solved any of the problem, as my father now keeps his overflow in the guest room closet, but my mother's, "So i don't have to go downstairs anymore?!" was well worth it.
In my quest to declutter my life, I basically emptied out my room, section by section, got rid of a good portion of what was there and put it back in such a way that everything has an easy-to-reach, designated spot. Here are some tricks I learned from months of show-watching:
1) See-through boxes. My junk starts to breed when I can't see it.
2) Labels. Guessing is damn annoying, especially when you have to move a bunch of crap just to find out you're wrong.
3) Bed risers. An extra six inches of space allows for more stuff, like empty luggage, making more room in the closet. Plus I feel like a queen sleeping so high.
4) Putting hangers on the rod backwards and flipping as I wear stuff. After about six months, I’ll really be able to see what can go.
5) Clip and file. I have about 200 magazines I’ve saved for God Knows What. I went through them, ripped out articles I might need again and filed by category in an expandable folder, which takes up 1/100 of the space.
6) Photos. I put all the old ones in photosafe boxes and one day when I have a lot of energy, I’ll get them into nonmagnetic albums. Maybe.
7) One in, one out rule. I gave myself a limit on fabric. Now that I've got it down to just the one big storage box, I can’t buy more until I use some. Even if it's on sale.
Sadly, I have accumulated so much junk over the years that this process will probably not be complete until partway through 2013. By which time I hope to be living elsewhere and accumulating a whole new housefull of crap.
But at least this exercise will make the move a little easier.
* I tried to be slick and get rid of seven (ONLY SEVEN!) of the bazillions of clothes my father moved to the guest room closet. Apparently, one of those raggedy items was "lucky." Let's just say the tearing through the house for it and the admonishment that ensued was not a terribly enjoyable experience.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Yesterday, a coyote wandered into a Loop sandwich shop and planted his booty down on some Diet Pepsi in the beverage cooler. Here is the Chicago Sun-Times story on the incident, of which I found this to be the best part:
There were four customers in the shop when the coyote wandered in. Two left, but two stuck around to finish their chicken sandwiches. They took photos until a police officer shooed them away, Patel said. The officer didn't have far to go; he was at the Dunkin' Donuts next door.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
And this capitals thing is driving me batty.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
I know it's going to be a tough adjustment for all of us. Hang in there.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
i was a little surprised. granted, i can accept that today's teenagers don't know about the Cobra Kai, but she hadn't even HEARD of any of them.
fine, it could be that the girl's a lifelong country fan-- that's fair; they're sort of in their own musical universe. and besides, i myself couldn't find the cheese in a maze if all the clues were based on classic rock. somehow during my formative years, the only music available to me fell into two categories: sappy country and even sappier hindi movie music. and even without the influence of a radio-savvy older person, i managed to listen past Kenny Rogers' "Lady." today, i am proud to say i can identify more than 48% of the music on Rolling Stone's list.
but H said she's not even a little bit country. in fact, she requested hip hop. to which i responded with a big, fat "JIGGAWHAT?!"
i guess there's no real reason for dismay. i understand stevie wonder's music is not hip hop. however, i find it appalling that somebody who purports to like the latter doesn't have a clue who the former is. good gravy, haven't they gotten around to having a stevie wonder round on American Idol yet?!
i suggested that H give her some stevie, some diana and some jackson five because of her request. and for the sake of my sanity, i requested he ask who she considers a "hip hop" artist, adding that if she said something like Akon, i would proceed to shoot myself in the head.
lucky for me, work got extremely busy for them and he never had the chance to ask. i don't think i really want to know anymore.